Hotel and Restaurant Management students at Northern Arizona University will be checking in to a new classroom thanks to a $50,000 pledge from Drury Hotels.

Artist's rending of the new classroom

An artist’s rendering of a new classroom in the renovated HRM building.

The updated classroom, which will be named for the hotel in recognition of its gift, is part of a $6 million renovation and expansion of the existing HRM facility.

The new structure, designed under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building guidelines, is expected to enhance student learning through hands-on exercises and skills training. The school’s new offerings will include a demonstration kitchen with 32 work stations, flexible use space, a housekeeping lab and larger classrooms to meet the needs of the growing program.

Dennis Vollink, president of Drury Hotels, said the hotel’s close relationship with the university benefits both entities.

“NAU has one of the best programs for hotel and restaurant management in the country,” Vollink said. “Our partnership directly affects the performance of the hotel and the university, and that relationship just gets stronger.”

The Drury Inn and Suites in Flagstaff has hired more than 20 team members from the university to fill various roles. It also is the state’s first silver LEED-certified hotel.

“We are very impressed with the quality and caliber of NAU students who graduate from this program,” Vollink said.

NAU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management was named among the top hospitality and tourism programs in the world for industry research earlier this year by the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research.

Richard Howey, executive director of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, said the gift clearly demonstrates the hotel’s commitment to the university and students.

“Without these partnerships, it would be very difficult for us to provide students with the quality education they deserve,” Howey said. “It’s exciting to see companies actively invest in our future.”